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New taxi options in Raleigh offer more than standard fare

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Traditional taxi services say the new services should be regulated. Traditional taxi services say the new services should be regulated.
RALEIGH, N.C. - A pair of new ride sharing smartphone apps launched in Raleigh on Thursday to the dismay of some traditional taxi services.

Uber and Lyft services are both well-established in some larger cities. The services connect independent drivers in their personal vehicles with people who need a ride. The car is ordered and paid for using the app. Once inside the vehicle, no money is exchanged.

WNCN decided to try out the service. We downloaded both apps. Uber did not have any cars available near our Raleigh studio when we attempted to use it around 7 p.m. WNCN had better luck using Lyft. The Lyft app shows you a picture of the nearest driver, the make and model of the car, and estimates for the price and arrival time. Prices can vary depending on demand.

That's unlike traditional taxi services, which must charge standard rates mandated by the city code. Uber and Lyft are not considered taxi companies, and therefore do not have to follow the City of Raleigh's regulations on taxis.

Harry Jeanniton, who owns Green Taxi in Raleigh, says it is unfair to companies like his who have to pay for annual inspections and follow other maintenance rules. 

He also says it's unfair to customers.

"It's making it harder for us to do our job," Jeanniton said. "They're going to pay more. They're not being regulated. A trip that's $10, Uber could say give me $15. Who's to say? Who are they going to complain to?"

But Raleigh City Councilor Mary-Ann Baldwin sees the situation differently.

"We're a city that's trying to encourage innovation, and you know, you can be part of an innovation wave or you can feel that you're being unfairly regulated," Baldwin said.

Some in Raleigh are excited about the new options.

"It's cool. I think it's great," said Anna Long of Raleigh.

Barry Jackson, who is visiting from Washington, was already familiar with how it works.

"I love it. It's great to see it spreading out in the country," Jackson said.

Both Uber and Lyft are currently offering discounts and free rides to some early adopters of their services.

Copyright 2014 WNCN. All rights reserved.

Derick Waller

Derick is a reporter for WNCN covering crime, education, politics and just about everything in between. He has a knack for adapting to any story and consistently delivers information quickly across multiple platforms. More>>

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